Edit: Updating the below post after returning from my trip!!
Now people might think that we are crazy for going during China’s Golden Week (nope I had absolutely no clue before I booked my tickets - moral of the story is to CHECK BEFOREHAND) but we are just going to wing it. No other choice anyway… haha
Anyway it was not too bad. honestly! but that’s also probably because we didn’t hang out much at the touristy bits. the only time it was crazy was taking the train to the Oriental Pearl + walking on the overhead bridge + taking photos at the Bund.
otherwise, other parts of shanghai is actually pretty quiet.
Again, not much techy stuff but here goes my feeble attempt:
Apps you should download before going to China
So that you can remain connected to the outside world (i.e. scale the Great FireWall of China) - check out this list of VPNs: https://www.helloteacher.asia/blog/best-vpn-for-china
Seems like ExpressVPN is recommended!
p.s. - if you have a good router apparently you can also set up your own personal VPN!! will definitely not get blocked. lol because addresses like 18.104.22.168 have already been blocked lol
when you reach China, don’t buy the SIM card at the airport (costs triple the price) - go to any shop (i think they are called China Unicom) and purchase a mobile plan! it cost 99rmb for 1 month of 20GB (but i thought they said it was unlimited usage…? LOL)
read here for more details on purchasing the SIM: https://www.thetravelbrief.com/briefs/pudong-international-airport-how-to-get-a-sim-card-at-shanghai-pudong-international-airport-pvg
after vyou connect, switch on your VPN and voila! you are FREE.
2) Baidu Maps
Because Google Maps doesn’t work well in China. Download it NOW.
3) Da Zhong Dian Ping (大众点评)
If you can read Mandarin, download this. IMMEDIATELY. LIKE, NOW. it’s like the best thing ever.
It’s like chope, burpple, fave/groupon, food blogs, google maps all mashed into one!
Find the recommended food places, entertainment spots, etc and you can also book using the app!
Amazing stuff - my friend says like all Chinese have this app. like, all of them. LOL
p.s. - this app was amazing! literally found most of our food recs through this app.
these are really all the apps you need.
wait a minute - what about WeChat or AliPay?
do you really need WeChat? the answer is yes (but not for the reason you think!)
some restaurants don’t have physical menus anymore - so scan the qr code to get the menu and order from it! you can pay the bill separately (in cash/ union pay credit card lol)
also, it was handy to be able to communicate with the locals (e.g. my photographer, or even just setting up a local phoneline for data - i sent her a photo of my passport lol).
the catch is - we did not get to use WeChat Pay! WHY??? read on below…
ok before i end off - Didi Chuxing (滴滴出行) (Uber for China) and E le mah (饿了吗) (Food Delivery) are also good apps - but only if you have a Chinese id to verify your wechat pay/ alipay!
WeChat Pay and AliPay
no matter what other people have said about various methods to get money into your WeChat Pay without requiring you to have a Chinese ID, THINGS HAVE CHANGED.
As of 5 May 2019, you need to have a Chinese ID to add money (or even accept money sent from other people) into your WeChat Pay/ AliPay account.
By the way, opening a chinese bank account is not easy nowadays - you can only open one if you are working there.
also, apparently according to this link (https://forums.hardwarezone.com.sg/money-mind-210/how-link-bank-card-wechat-wallet-5685098-2.html):
WeChat pay and WeChat wallet are two different things. WeChat Pay allows you to add Singapore issued Visa/MasterCard, but not UnionPay card issued in Singapore. WeChat Wallet only accepts topup from debit card issued in mainland China.
so, you can use unionpay credit cards in China (https://www.singsaver.com.sg/blog/everything-you-need-to-know-about-union-pay) but still you cannot use it to link up to WeChat Wallet (aka can’t use WeChat to pay!!)
i must say the chinese govt is really strict and working hard to patch up all the loopholes lol
this guy seems like he updates quite regularly - so check out his blog for latest updates: https://lerner.co.il/2018/12/28/the-foreigners-guide-to-wechat-payments-in-china/
so how if i cannot use wechat or alipay?
1) bring everything in cash
2) bring a visa/mastercard atm/debit/credit card with a pin number to withdraw money from an atm machine (that has the visa/mastercard logo above it!!)
aka, means pay for everything in cash LOL
Speaking of delivery: TAOBAO
Is like, the king. If you are ok with bumbling around in Mandarin on the app, just like use it. NOW.
Before, I used to default to Ezbuy or Lazada because I was worried about the delivery to Singapore and all.
FORGET ALL THAT. NOW.
Taobao has brought their game to a whole a new level. So easy just to set your delivery location to Singapore and pay using Visa.
Prices are cheaper compared to Ezbuy, and even AliExpress ANDDDD this is the clincher: the image search is crazy powerful. Like, crazy.
You don’t even need to know what your item is called in Mandarin - just snap a picture of it, and search using their image search function.
Also, their recommendations are pretty sick. The only downside is I spend a million years obsessing over all the pages and I get sucked into this never ending spiral of more, more, moreee…!
Ok end of drama.
Honestly though, the most important thing is to look through the user reviews. Just click on the photos, and you can see what the item actually looks like. Like, legit, without filters and taken from ugly angles and all.
If it still looks decent, you know you can buy it. Lol
if you want to read more, check this out: https://blog.moneysmart.sg/shopping/taobao-singapore-guide-shopping-delivery/
p.s. - i didn’t realise the additional delivery fee to singapore can actually be quite substantial! paid $50 for a few kgs… gulp. guess that saved me the hassle of delivering to my hotel and stuffing all of it into my luggage…
Ok end of my gushing. Back to Taobao-ing… LOL
Maybe I will do a review of my loots when they arrive. Haha
Update: they have arrived! not bad eh, for the stuff like home decor items (vases, photo frames, etc). as for clothes… i think i have given up on buying clothes online lol what looks nice on other people just doesnt look nice on me!! #sad
What to eat in Shanghai
1. Lao Wang
Address: So many branches around Shanghai - use the DianPing App to find the one nearest to you!
This is like, pork stomach soup haha peppery hot soup so great for winter time!! Also it is actually a steamboat so you get to order other vegetables (aka dou miao and they harvest it at your table LOL same for mushrooms!! is really order for the gimmick lol can order normal veggies also nice la lol) and beancurd (smokey taste- really yummy) AND claypot rice (GREAT)
Amazing comfort food right off alighting from the plane yummm~
Bonus: There is a mala variation of Lao Wang (instead of pork stomach soup), but I believe (as of now) there is only one branch near Changshou Road. Find it on dianping!!! The mala is not (not too crazy spicy), they gave duck’s blood which i tried and was pleasantly surprised (if i take small nibbles lol) and the century egg soup with clams is also interesting! try the wine marinated chicken - even after boiling in soup, it still retains a strong wine taste! what sorcery. lol
Instagram (for mala variation): https://www.instagram.com/explore/locations/1078321359045650/
2. Chun Zai
Address: Fucheng Rd, Lu Jia Zui, Pudong Xinqu, Shanghai Shi, China, 200070
Located in Pudong near the Shangrila (if memory serves me well); please go if only to eat the razor clams steamed in wine!! gigantic, fresh and juicy - i miss it already!! i liked the crab tofu as well - light and yummy. Didn’t order vegetables but apparently its reallyyyy good.
worth the walk!!
3. Hong Kui Jia
Address: Quite a few branches around Shanghai - use the DianPing App to find the one nearest to you!
If you like crayfish, go here! bucket of yummyyyy~ Spicy flavour is great with beer hehe and side dishes like garlic steamed scallops are also good!!
4. Cheng Long Hang Crab Palace
Address: 1 Fenyang Lu, by Huaihai Lu (I believe there is another branch somewhere else)
I really like the wine soaked crab (this is raw! so not recommended to pregnant ladies, etc… google if you want to know more lol i just ate without thinking and loved it hahahah) soooo flavourful!
the crab xiaolongbao (although more pricey than other places) was really good too yummm
the other crab dishes… maybe not so worth the price tag? ahaha this place is atas one, portions are small, be warned lol
Other note-worthy food:
Ms Fu in Chengdu: mala sticks! quite yummy leh lol we were just way too stuffed (from other food) to eat more sadly lol (https://www.instagram.com/explore/locations/457962578059824/ms-fu-in-chengdu/)
Qing Hua Jiao Sha Guo Yu: yummy, if only slightlyyy spicier it would be like, perfect!! still good tho (https://www.instagram.com/explore/locations/1932741330077267/)
Jian Bing: no storefront, this guy was literally camps outside the ChangShou Rd station every morning (forgot which exit lol) and makes jianbing! we couldn’t find the fanous one so randomly ate this - still good!
Lao Shanghai: many of this brand’s stalls around selling baked scallion pancakes! oily but crispy hahaha
Speak Low: world’s 20th best bar! quite yummy drinks and snacks lol (https://www.instagram.com/explore/locations/309535389/speak-low/)
Other food we tried but (somehow) nothing to shout about:
GROM: ice cream from italy - seems overpriced leh, prob better in italy (of course lol)
Jia Jia Tang Bao: think i prefer din tai fung xiao long baos? haha
Xiao Yang Sheng Jian: really juicy but is it we were too full…? other friends rave about it tho lol